Schulz and I stand beside each other as the training hermanas’ car approaches. We’ve not spoken all morning. Stoic Schulz preferred the view to conversation. A few jokes passed between her and Blank, but nothing for me.
“You’ll be a great training hermana, Schulz.”
“Thanks, Lewis. Try to stay alive.”
That’s the end of Schulz and me. She climbs in the car with Hermana Litchford, who still looks like she should be cavorting on a beach in a Pac Sun ad, and Hermana Stathos, who spares me a small wave and inquiry after my arm.
My new companion will come by bus. She’s been part of a threesome, so her poor comps get to waste a day on this transfer. No one knows when the bus will arrive. We sit and sweat while ancient buses stuffed with Dominicans and livestock rattle and sputter by at uncommonly high speed. The dirt whips into dust devils and makes the heat hotter. My Coca-Cola tastes gritty.
“I volunteer to get us all fresh sodas,” I murmur to the Elders. Everything already feels different without Schulz. Without her, we’re the sad pictures from the 1920s American dust bowl. Faces filled with deep lines and dirt. Nothing exciting at all.
When I get back, Hermana Olsen sits on her luggage opposite the Elders. This is the first I’ve seen her since we left the MTC. She’s changed, too, roughened at the edges. I hold out the 7-Up and Coca-Cola bottles for her to choose. She rejects both. The Elders take their Dr. Peppers. My insides feel like dried-out paint trays, so an extra soda is fine by me.